Your two to three-month-old is learning fast, and you'll be amazed at how accomplished he can become in quite a short time. During this period of time he will reward you with lovely smiles – real ones, not just windy grimaces!
It's a joy to see happiness on your baby's face and is very affirming of your own parenting skills, too.
The following milestones usually occur during this 9-12 week period – but don't be alarmed if your baby isn't 'keeping up' with all of these. Have a word with your health visitor or GP in case there is a reason for developmental delay, but the chances are your baby is just going at his or her own pace.
Mobility and motor skills
• You may notice your baby lifting her head and holding it up when she's on her tummy. She won't be able to hold this position for long (who'd want to?) but it'll show that she's interested in her surroundings and that her neck muscles are becoming stronger.
• Your baby may even bring her chest and shoulders off the floor when she's on her tummy! This is a sign that her back and spine are gaining in strength, too.
• Those little arms and legs will be getting plenty of muscle-strengthening exercise as your baby kicks out and waves about.
• If you touch your baby's palm with your fingertip, you'll probably find she grasps your finger firmly in return.
Sociability and senses
• Your baby will enjoy the sound of your voice and will seem to listen intently. Try singing or talking in a sing-song voice to keep her amused.
• Smiles will be frequent and lovely.
• Your baby will start cooing, babbling and chuckling – another magical sound. This is her language, so respond whenever you hear her, then wait and see if she replies!
• As visual muscle strength and coordination increases your baby will be able to follow moving objects with her eyes: the best distance to dangle and move toys around in front of her is around 20cm/8in from her face.
• Keep up the face-pulling games, as your baby will enjoy copying you.
Check with your health visitor or GP if:
• Your baby makes no attempts to follow a nearby moving object with her eyes or continues to squint after 12 weeks.
• Doesn't smile.
• Doesn't hold her head up, even for short periods.
• Doesn't grasp a finger when her palm is stroked.
LIFE THROUGH YOUR BABY'S EYES
From around his ninth week your baby will have developed the ability to 'fix' on objects and faces with his eyes. This means he'll be able to gaze with some concentration for short periods. Faces are his favourite thing to look at, and he'll be fascinated if you pull different faces.
Try making an 'O' with your mouth (you may have been doing this from the time he was a newborn) and watch as he tries to copy you. You can make a game of this exchange of expressions.
Now is the time your baby may enjoy a cot mobile, as he enjoys watching moving objects as well. His concentration span is still short, so do feel disheartened if he only appears to watch it for a few seconds or so before losing interest. The little time he does spend will awaken his curiosity and stimulate his imagination.
Before long his hand-eye coordination will have developed to the extent that he'll reach out to grab things ou dangle in front of him. In fact, you'll notice that his interest in his own hands becomes quite marked around this time.
From around now, your baby may notice and take an interest in things about two metres away rather than just close up - although he'll still look for longer and more closely at near objects.
He'll almost certainly recognise your face and feel reassured by it. You'll know this when he smiles or giggles when you walk into the room.
Up until now, you may have noticed your baby's eyes 'drifting' - focusing in different directions or barely seeming to focus for any length of time. By week 12, you should see your baby's eyes focusing more strongly and together, so that any appearance of a squint is gone.
If your baby still seems to be squinting - either in one eye, both eyes or alternating eyes, it's important you get a professional medical opinion, as early diagnosis is very important in correcting a squint effectively.
GAMES TO PLAY WITH YOUR BABY
Your baby's interest in the world around him is growing all the time, and he'll particularly enjoy sensory games, so try to think inventively when you're playing with him.
Give him things to grasp: a rattle; a small soft toy; your finger; a plastic spoon. Avoid things that could hurt him if he bangs them against himself. Make sure you encourage your baby to use both his hands: it'll help with coordination as well as muscle strength.
As his neck grows stronger and he's able to hold his head up for short bursts, take your baby by the hands and gently pull him to sitting up, then lower him slowly. He'll love the see-saw effect and it'll help strengthen his back.
Stimulate your baby's hearing by introducing him to a variety of different sounds: burst some bubble wrap near him; crinkle some greaseproof paper, then let him try; shake his rattle; activate a musical toy. Make the sounds to either side of his head so that he turns to find the source, and vary the order of sounds you make: he'll enjoy the element of surprise.
By the time he's three months old your baby might already be able to roll from his front on to his back, and you can encourage him by gently placing him on his tummy and physically turning him yourself. It will be months yet before he can roll from his back to his tummy. Make a game of turning him: perhaps sing a special song or play some music.
Your baby might well enjoy an activity arch or cot toy, as long as you place everything within swiping distance and never leave him to play unsupervised. Switch the order of the hanging toys from time to time and see if you think your baby has noticed - chances are he has!
By three months he'll probably be able to lean up on his forearms and look up when lying on his tummy, so encourage this by dangling toys near him so he can track them with his eyes.
Handing your baby a toy he can grasp easily, such as a teething ring, will help him practice hand skills in readiness for passing things from hand to hand. He'll be able to let go of things as well as grasp them now, so be prepared for picking up after him a lot from now on!
IMMUNISATIONS IN YOUR BABY'S FIRST YEAR
The childhood immunisation programme has all but wiped out some of the most serious diseases in the world, and every responsible parent should take it up for their child.
The idea of your baby having a jab or two isn't the happiest thought in the world, but when you consider that it could save her life and the lives of others, it puts things into perspective. The jabs are only momentary and usually cause little or no discomfort, so be reassured: your baby will, in all likelihood, be absolutely fine afterwards.
Here's a rundown to what happens when and what to expect.
At 2 months:
Your baby will be given a 5-in-1 single jab known as DTaP/IPV/Hib, which stands for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib, a bacterial infection that can cause severe pneumonia or meningitis in young children). She'll also have a jab to protect against pneumococcal infection.
At 3 months:
The second dose of the 5-in-1 is given, along with a jab against meningitis C.
At 4 months:
The third dose of the 5-in-1 is given, as well as a second dose against pneumococcal infection and a second dose against meningitis C.
Between 12 and 13 months:
The third dose of meningitis C is given, together with a fourth dose against Hib. These are administered in one single jab, known as Hib/MenC. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) immunisation is also given as a single jab, along with a third dose against penumococcal infection, given as another separate jab.
9-12 WEEKS CHECKLIST
Some time during this period you should receive an appointment for your baby's second round of immunisations including a spearate meningitis C jab. If you haven't been sent a notification, do get in touch with your GP's surgery or baby clinic so you don't miss the boat.
It's very important to have all the injections, rather than imagining your baby is covered by the first lot: she's not. Missing out on immunisations means there's a danger of the serious childhood diseases returning, and you're not only putting your own baby at risk, but everyone else's too.
Start giving your baby more time on her tummy when she's awake and out of her cot. You must supervise this time, though, to prevent any possibility of her suffocating. It's important she spends time lying on her front to help her strengthen her neck muscles as she lifts her head.
How this helps:
It will help prevent her from getting a flat spot on the back of her skull. It will also encourage your baby to kick her legs, exercising her large motor muscles.
It's good practice, too, for when she's ready to push herself up and roll over.
If you haven't yet begun reading to your baby, it's not too soon to start.
How this helps:
She's ready to start getting an ear for language, and if you choose board books with different textures for her to feel, she'll be getting a whole sensory workout each time you share a book.
Babies love repetition. Reading the same book over and over, whilst varying the tone of your voice and using some expressions of surprise and delight, will convey a feeling of excitement to your baby.
You'll be engendering an early love of books in your baby.
SAFE CO-SLEEPING WITH YOUR BABY
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